PM won’t attend Likud central c’tee meeting on freeze

Netanyahu: I already said I will not renew the freeze.

Netanyahu spreads arms 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Netanyahu spreads arms 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be notably absent from Thursday’s controversial meeting of the Likud central committee at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
The central committee is expected to pass a proposal supporting building throughout the Land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria, and calling upon the party’s representatives to back ending the 10-month settlement freeze when it concludes at the end of September.
Netanyahu’s associates said he did not believe it was necessary for him to attend the event because he had already said on multiple occasions that he did not intend to renew the freeze. Sources close to him said it would be inappropriate for him to attend the event two weeks ahead of his meeting in Washington with US President Barack Obama.
“The prime minister supports building after the freeze and the proposal is merely declarative and not binding, so there really is no reason for him to come,” said Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, who chairs the central committee. “The prime minister comes if he has something to fight for, and in this case, he doesn’t.”
But Likud MK Danny Danon, who initiated the meeting, said Netanyahu was sending a message by not attending. He noted that Netanyahu had asked him to delay the meeting from March, because he would be in the United States and he wanted to attend.
“If the prime minister doesn’t come, it’s a bad sign for September when the freeze ends,” Danon said. “It means he is more worried about pressure from Obama than from the Likud.”
Few ministers are expected to attend the event, but Minister- without-Portfolio Bennie Begin and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan have expressed interested in speaking. Likud activist Moshe Feiglin is expected to attack Netanyahu in his speech, while Danon said he would focus his attack not on Netanyahu but on Obama.